Monday, 9 November 2015

New favourite object - Anna Beam

I'm really in love with this make-up bag bought from Anna Beam at some craft fair near Brick Lane at the weekend. It's the perfect combination of colours, shapes and embroidery.

I had a very brief chat to the lady herself at her stall and was even more impressed to learn she makes all of her designs up herself. It really shows as well, all her bags and pouches were incredibly detailed, with embroidery, custom beading and a lot of things you don't get when someone sends their design off to a factory to be made up...

  Anna Beam

You can read more about Anna here and meet and buy from her and other talented crafts-ladies at their shop launch in Hackney on Thursday.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Liberty of London

As a child of the mid-80s, I've always been a bit sceptical of Liberty prints. Fussy, small scale floral pattens remind me of the room my mum decorated for me as a child and seem about as chic as white-painted wicker. Something like this:


Until a couple of weeks ago, that is. I think I might be becoming a Liberty convert... Two things are to blame.

This amazing bomber jacket from the brilliant blog The Craft Society:


...and this beautiful lamp created by the amazingly creative lady behind Take Courage blog (full post here)
  Liberty lamp - Take Courage blog

Luckily, I am not the only one looking at Liberty afresh. The Fashion and Textile Museum will shortly be launching its Liberty in Fashion Autumn exhibition.


Can't wait!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Front room tour



One of my favourite things about moving into our little Victorian house last year was suddenly having room for all the hand-me-downs family heirlooms that my parents have been letting me hoard in their garage for the last couple of years.

One of the side benefits of my big Danish family is that when my Mum moved over to England she came with a white van full of 70s furniture that was out of style at the time and none of her relatives wanted. After 20 more years of robust use by me and my brother, she was ready to throw some of these things away, only I forced her to keep them for me until I had my own place. She wasn't always happy about a gigantic, mustard yellow Erik Jørgensen sofa taking up the whole garage, but she stuck to her word. Now that I have a front room, it is sitting in it, and still taking up all the space!

The colours for this room were chosen purely in honour of the sofa and the Tate Modern cushion that sits on it. While they were sort of an accident (I never thought I would decorate a room red, yellow and orange) I now LOVE them and spend a lot of time here, hanging out.

This room isn't finished yet. The floor is rubbish, there are no curtains and I have a Tom Dixon light I haven't hung yet (can't wait). But, meh, it's only decorating. It'll keep.

Front room Front room

An old Kahler vase (a great-grandparent lived near the factory).

Front room Front room

Kate Bush poster

My prized Kate Bush poster from her Hammersmith Apollo shows last year. Sitting on top of an amazing cabinet I got for £20 in a  charity shop. It even had an amber glass knob so it matches the rest of the room. Fate!

Front room

Front room origami
I went on an origami crane making binge after a visit to the Japan shop recently...

St Vincent Poster
Tiny, touristy Kabuki masks from a charity shop surrounding an amazing St Vincent screen print we got when we saw her in Nashville last year.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Snaps + Rye - Danish eating in West London

I unsuspectingly stumbled across the West London Danish restaurant Snaps+Rye this weekend while trying to find a tube station. Attracted by the Danish signs, I wandered in to take a look and got talking to the very friendly manager/owner, who totally humoured me when I asked if they sell remoulade (addictive, Danish, neon yellow tartar sauce). They make their own, of course.
I had eaten *quite* recently but figured it would be rude not to have a cup of coffee. And some apple cake:

Snaps + Rye

And then I saw a chef walk through the cafe with a tray of ryebread covered in some sort of delicious salmon. Cured salmon with fennel pollen and akvavit to be precise. Some found its way to my table....

Snaps + Rye

I only tried two things, but they were delicious and well presented and I got to eat them in an atmosphere of superlative Danish-ness; the shop even has the distinctive door handles and light switches you see in Danish public buildings. It was quite dear for the amount of food, but even that is authentically Danish!

Looking at the coverage Snaps+Rye has had, it seems they are already actively promoting the Danish way to West-Londoners, even holding a Skt Hans aften party to celebrate Mid-Summer last month as well as lots of other events. I definitely want to come back to an evening event and get a feel for whether the food and venue can move from cafe to restaurant. Thanks Snaps+Rye for tempting me to add an extra meal to my day and sending me off with free liquorice for me and my ex-pat mum!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Benjamin Booker

Last night we went to the opening party of Primavera Sound 2015. It's my fifth year at PS and already we have had the best first day yet. We saw a lot but the highlight was Benjamin Booker, a 'new to me' artist who we went to see because he had a NOLA connection. We were expecting something fairly laid back and bluesey. Ha.

What we actually got was a surreal mixture of boogie woogie and punk, with Benjamin B. dancing around the stage in the style of Buddy Holly. Apparently he describes his sound as 'if Otis Redding joined a punk band'.

The show was further enlivened when BB called an audience member called Pablo on stage and instructed him to crowd surf around the venue. Then when some security guards (who probably didn't understand much of what was being said) tried to drag Pablo off, BB dived off stage to rescue him. It was quite something. Once he and Pablo were safe again on stage he gave the audience permission to basically do what they wanted to security.

I got most of this exchange on video at the link below, though I can't embed it at the moment.

I'd say BB went a bit far in his comments about security and there may well be repercussions for his set at the festival itself but it was as visceral and spontaneous thing as I've ever seen a star on a stage do.

There is a great NPR interview with him about the origins of his sound and his interest in protest. I will definitely be lookin to find out more about him and his music when I get home.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


I need to find some cheapish curtains for the French windows in my kitchen. Time for a trip to the fabric shops in Dalston for some batik, inspired by Kate's kitchen.

Kate burt

These are some of the designs that I like the look of online. I just need to find two big enough pieces with red, green and yellow and not much else in.




Sunday, 8 February 2015

Tom Dixon's designs for Sea Containers

I was lucky enough to take some clients to the new Sea Containers restaurant in the Mondrian hotel on Southbank before Christmas. The food was delicious but I was mainly there to get a look at the decor from Tom Dixon's Design Research Studio. You can see some stock photos below as I wasn't uncouth/brave enough to start snapping myself. The colours and the lighting and the humorous touches, like the Yellow Submarine, really made an impression.






Tom Dixon is a favourite designer of mine (as I have written before) because he is so inventive and down to earth. His lighting is still priced at levels that are within mortal reach and he is very up front and grateful about the fact that his famous copper disco ball lights paid for the growth of the rest of the company. I like a designer who can make their business pay and not just blaze into integrity-filled administration. I saved up for one of his lights last year and can't wait to get the electrician over to hang it.

I have Tom Dixon's 'Dixonary' book which is far more interesting than most designer-authored books. My favourite, quote, about TD's cast iron shoe doorstop, is:

"In the board game Cluedo, domestic objects become murder weapons. I like the idea of objects becoming figurative and not completely reflecting their functionality. Sometimes I get bored of being too serious. The idea of using a show as a doorstop seemed natural, becuase that is what you do with your foot. And you always need a non-specific heavy object at home - to attack a burglar, bang in a nail, crack a nut, or just keep a door open."


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Easter in Copenhagen

This is set of photos from a very happy Easter with family in Denmark about two years ago. It involved steak tartar, snaps, 'Bear-beer'and a look through my granddad's old sketchbooks. I found these photos again recently and it just reminded me how seriously my Danish family takes hosting. There always has to be a centrepiece, curly parsley garnishes on the plates and no one can eat without candles lit.

Easter in Copenhagen Easter in Copenhagen

Easter in Copenhagen

Easter in Copenhagen Easter in Copenhagen

Easter in Copenhagen Easter in Copenhagen
Easter in Copenhagen

Easter in Copenhagen

Monday, 2 February 2015

Persian rug alternatives

I am currently a bit obsessed with Persian rugs and getting one for my front room so that my feet won't freeze on the laminate floor any more. I think they are a great investment and look great with white walls and a few other colours, like here:

persian rugpersian2 persian3

More Persian rug porn can be found here.

I haven't found the right one yet, but in my internet travels, I've come across some interesting variations on Persian rugs.

First up, 'war rugs' where Afghan rug makers incorporate images of weapons and tanks into their traditional rugs - apparently this started as a way to increase their appeal to Soviet troops?! These take about a year to make and are works of art in their own right. It would be a bit of a dark thing to have in your home but they are apparently very sought after among American collectors (see an article about them in the Atlantic here)


Secondly, and lightening things up a bit, Hama bead rugs! Christina Puggard from Jutland in Denmark makes big tiled designs from kids favourites, Hama beads. Her 'giga-stor' (mega-big) versions make a real impact. Sadly, she seems to sell them locally and mainly by phone and email but you can see the photos on her Instagram account.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Beer bottle art - Mikeller brewery

Mikeller is a Copenhagen microbrewery that was set up by a home brew-loving Danish teacher and two of his pupils. You can drink beer from the age of 15 in Denmark so this isn't necesarily as legally problematic as it sounds. The beers Mikeller makes are tasty and forceful and their bars are fun and full of attractive people. But that isn't what this website is about.

What grabs my attention about Mikeller are their dry-humoured, 2D cartoon bottle labels, designed by a Philadelphian called Keith Shore. It's like a sarcastic Ancient Egyptian discovered neons and Microsoft Paint. They are a thing of beauty and, excellently, Mikeller sell t-shirts as well as beer.

Here are some favourites. They look good and they taste good.

Mikeller beer designs Copenhagen Mikeller beer designs Copenhagen Mikeller beer designs Copenhagen Mikeller beer designs Copenhagen Mikeller beer designs Copenhagen

Keith sells some prints of Mikeller posters and if I can work out how to get them shipped over to the UK I am most definitely going to get one. Or six.

Keith Shore designs for Mikeller Keith Shore designs for Mikeller Keith Shore designs for Mikeller
Keith Shore designs for Mikeller Keith Shore designs for Mikeller Keith Shore designs for Mikeller

Be sure to visit the Mikeller bars if you are in Copenhagen.